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Australia’s Biggest Warship Participates in Military Exercises With US, Philippines

Sydney [Australia], August 14 (ANI): Australia’s largest warship is sailing to the Philippines on Monday, where tensions with Beijing over disputed South China Sea waters have risen recently, The Voice of America (VOA) reported. 

HMAS Canberra will participate in joint military drills with Philippine and US forces.

One of the most significant waterways in the world is the South China Sea. It is a vital maritime route with abundant fishing grounds that connects the Indian and Pacific oceans. Additionally, it might include valuable natural resource deposits.

Neighbouring countries have contested the region for years. China has laid claim to large swathes, which has angered competing claimants, including Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam, VOA reported.

Most recently, authorities in the Philippines accused the Chinese of using a water cannon against its vessels carrying supplies for Filipino soldiers based on one of the disputed Spratly Islands. The Philippine Coast Guard said China’s actions were “excessive and unlawful”. China demanded the removal of the beached ship the soldiers are living on.

The United States stays neutral in the territorial disputes but has deployed military aircraft and ships near disputed islands in what it calls “freedom of navigation” operations in the South China Sea, VOA reported.

Monday, Australia sends its largest warship – HMAS Canberra – to the Philippines to take part in joint exercises with US and Filipino forces.

Vice Admiral Mark Hammond, Australia‘s Chief of Navy, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Monday that Canberra wants to maintain peace in the region, VOA reported.

“The South China Sea has been an area of tension now for many, many years,” he said. “We have continued to conduct our operations and activities and exercises with allies and partners safely and securely despite those tensions. So, I’m not particularly concerned about this deployment any more so than any of the other deployments that we do,” the admiral said.

Australia‘s defence and security partnership with the Philippines dates back more than 100 years.

Earlier this year, officials said that the Philippines and Australia had discussed joint patrols in the South China Sea.

In February, China’s coast guard directed a military-grade laser at the crew of a Philippine coast guard vessel around Second Thomas Shoal, VOA reported.
Beijing insisted its actions were legal.

China’s ambitions in the South China Sea, and other geopolitical and trade disputes, have fractured Australia’s relationship with Beijing in recent years, VOA reported.

A left-leaning government in Canberra elected in May 2022 has sought to stabilize bilateral ties but has insisted that there would inevitably be areas of disagreement and competition. (ANI)

Source : ANINEWS